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Unique Cadaver Lab Experience helps Massage Therapist in training

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Unique Cadaver Lab Experience helps Massage Therapist in training

By: Lisa Saccoia, LMT, BS

Have you ever held a brain? A spleen? How about an actual human muscle?

Our massage therapy students have. Here’s why:

CNWSMT students spend their first months here learning how massage affects the body. Massage therapy affects all organs! They learn about each body system and how it’s affected: brain, nerves, digestive tract, etc. Reading and looking at illustrations is helpful. But we offer students the unique opportunity to experience a hands-on approach. Which includes, holding a brain.

Thanks to a partnership with Albany Medical Anatomical Gift Center, we do this every year. Our latest trip was this April.

Gracious volunteer medical students – along with Michael Smith, Ph.D., Director of the Anatomical Gift Program – spent the evening with us. They let us palpate, touch and ask questions about the muscles, organs and tissues.

There were mixed feelings as we crammed into the elevator and rose to the top floor. We walked through winding hallways covered with medical posters and “hazard” signs. When we entered the cadaver lab, white lab coats and latex gloves were lined up for each student. The medical students waited patiently, going over the notes they’d prepared.

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Source: http://www.bsc.edu/features/cadaver/

The cadaver lab was a large, white medical room lit with bright florescent lights. There were about 12 stations/tables in total – each with a cadaver and two medical students. The stations were dedicated to one part/system of the body (i.e. digestive tract, legs and thighs, back muscles).

CNWSMT student, Lauren Kobes, said the buildup of entering the Cadaver Lab was a little daunting. There had been rumors of odd smells, people passing out and a wide gamut of emotions. As she walked in, the first thing she saw was an exposed leg.

“I thought I was going to pass out,” she said “It helped that the medical students are desensitized to it. It’s a normal day for them.”

Kobes said it was fascinating to see the human body (cadaver) in real life. Before this, she’s only seen muscles and organs on TV and in medical book illustrations. I’m guessing the majority of us have.

Her classmate Samantha Genier had similar worries about seeing a cadaver in person. Though she dissected a grasshopper in 10th grade, she never saw a human cadaver up close before.

“I was open to the idea that – even though I could watch operations and dissections on YouTube – seeing it in person would be a whole different ball of wax,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if I could handle it up close and personal.”

It didn’t take long for the initial shock to wear off. Within a few moments, Samantha and Lauren were holding a brain as if they’d done it a million times before. Perhaps the awe and wonder exceeded the fear and trepidation.

It’s not every day we’re entrusted to witness the most inner workings of the human anatomy. Precious organs and muscles sheltered from the world were now in the palms of your hands.

“Holding a brain in my hands was the coolest thing. We learned the cranial nerves that day,” she said. “We flipped over the brain and could point the cranial nerves out. Education meets application.”

For all, it was a fun and education evening!

massage therapy, massage school, massage students, cadaver lab, albany medical, anatomical gift

If you’re curious about what a Cadaver Lab actually is, Bastry University has a great write up. A simple Google search will bring up images of cadaver labs. However, photography at the Albany Med Cadaver Lab is not allowed. Respecting the bodies is of highest priority.

If you’re interested in learning more about studying massage therapy at CNWSMT give us a call.

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Albany, NY 12205
Administrative Office: (518) 489-4026
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Administrative Office: (518) 489-4026 | Student Massage Clinic: (518) 489-4068 | Fax: (518) 489-0522